Category Archives: movies

This Is It

michael-jackson-this-is-it-rehearsalI just watched movie “This is It“, Michael Jackson’s rehearsals for his intended performance tour.  I feel stirred.  Here are my rather raw thoughts.  (Won’t be much proofreading or editing this time).

I am a music snob.  There, I said it.  I do not care for much pop music and I probably won’t ever buy any MJ music.  It just does not match my musical pallette.  That statement says more about me than it does about MJ.  I could say his music is bad, but the reality is that it is very good.  I just don’t care for it… musically.  My opinion.

I once heard an interview with Quincy Jones in which he was praising MJ for his musicianship when they worked together on The Wiz.  I have a lot of respect (musically) for Quincy Jones, so his praise for Michael made me sit up and take notice.  I also heard a lot of people who saw it in the theater say how much they liked it.  I really noticed for myself what an awesome musician MJ really was.  He knew what he wanted to hear… exactly and pushed back until he got it.

I noticed that at times, he had trouble explaining in plain language what he wanted.  He would describe something in really wacky abstract terms, like the time he said that his ear piece (monitor) felt like someone was putting a fist in his ear.  The producer guy had to ask him patiently if there was anything they could do to make it better.  Was there something missing in the mix?  He replied, “No, just turn it down.”  I thought to myself, “Why didn’t you just say that to begin with?”  However, I can also relate to having trouble communicating something simple.  Sometimes I am so caught up in what I’m doing that I can’t express simple what I want to say until someone patiently asks the right questions to get understanding.

I am reading Pops (a biography of Louis Armstrong) and they called him an entertainer.  The “real” musicians didn’t mean it as a compliment.  They complained that he was an “Uncle Tom” and too self depricating on stage.  What they didn’t understand was that was who he was… an entertainer.  It was part of the act.  Similarly I think Michael was truly an entertainer and “real” musicians don’t get it.  In his own words near the end of the video (to the best of my memory), he told his fellow performers that they (the audience) was coming to escape reality.  they want to be taken places they’ve never been before and experience talent that they’ve never experienced before.  That’s entertainment.  He put on a helluva show!

Michael Jackson was a strange man with some really odd problems.  He was born in 1958, the same year I was born.  He became famous with the Jackson Five when he was only eight.  I can only imagine what that would do to a person.  You can’t live the life of a public star and not have any adverse affects.  My guess (and it is only a guess) is that a lot of the personal issues MJ had were direcly related to his fame.  He wasn’t a normal guy. I also think that his artistry was related to his eccentricity.  In my experience, it seems like when someone has a lot of talent in one particular area, they are missing it in most other areas.

Before I started the movie, I posted on Facebook that I was going to watch it.  I got some interesting comments.  It’s funny how someone like MJ pushes so many buttons even after his death.  I like pushing my own boundaries, experiencing new things and doing the unexpected.  Most of all I love excellence and I love variety!  I’m glad I watched the show.  It was excellent.

Thanks Michael.

Godspell

Jesus from GodspellPlease don’t tell my Sunday School teacher, but I watched Godspell, a musical from 1972 based on the life of Jesus from the Gospel of St. Matthew.  I was 14ish when it came out in movie form and being Southern Baptists, my peers and I were forbidden to see it.  I (being an obedient young fellow) didn’t see it.  By the time I was old enough to decide for myself, I had forgotten about it and it was not readily available (VCRs hadn’t even been invented yet).  I never saw it until tonight.

I can understand why they didn’t allow us to see it.  This modern, artful depiction of Jesus and his followers was way too “out there” for most of the folks in my parents’ generation.  In this musical, Jesus is a hippie and is dressed clownishly.  The whole “hippie” thing of free love and irresponsibility, chafed against their values  for hard work and conformity.  To make matters worse, his disciples are both black and white, male and female and the songs are rowdy rock and roll (for the time).

While I understand and even respect the stance of those church leaders (oddly, I don’t remember ever discussing this with my parents), I was not part of their generation and I feel like I missed something good.  The movie I watched tonight was quite dated.  The video quality and the style of music were typical of the 70’s… but there was something about it that moved me.  I think I would have been moved as a teenager too.  I saw a creative, artistic expression of the life of Jesus that I think would have inspired me.  Clearly, it was never intended to be taken as a literal interpretation of the Bible, but that fact was likely missed by the folks who ran things in my church.  Their position was that dancing, joking, references to drinking wine, etc were sacrilegious and disrespectful.  To them, acceptable depictions of Christian themes in art would be limited to “normal” church music and art.

I remember some of the songs from the musical like “Day by Day” that came into their own as pop tunes.   I could never understand what they found offensive (apart from the association with the musical itself).  According to the wisdom of Wikipedia, “Most of the score’s lyrics were from the Episcopal Hymnal, set to music by the cast members.”  I think it was a good desire to protect the young people from something, but in retrospect, their control kept me from an experience that would have been enriching to me.

Day by day
Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day

The Secret

I was unfamiliar with The Secret until a friend asked about it tonight. I just did a quick search and my first inclination is to say “SCAM” Here’s what I read on Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

…As put forth in the film, the “Law of Attraction” principle posits that our feelings and thoughts affect real events in the world, from the workings of the entire cosmos to interactions among individuals in their physical, emotional, and professional affairs. The film also suggests that there has been a conspiracy to keep this central principle hidden from the public.

Continue reading The Secret